Martin Farms does not buy or use GMO seeds. As a general rule of thumb GMO plants have very little practical application in the home garden. There really is no need for us to even consider them.
As a grower we believe in utilizing the safest possible procedures. As an example of this we utilize predatory bugs to manage pests and limit pesticide use. We haven’t applied for the organic designation but would likely check most of their boxes. We believe in bringing safe, healthy and beautiful plants to market.
First – yes – you need to eat – so does the garden, Second – it depends. A container garden on a patio or balcony will need a lot more frequent feeding than a garden in a ground bed in rich organic soil. A garden in a ground bed in a newly turned bed of ‘subdivision’ soil may need more feeding than same garden after years of adding lots of organic matter every year. Third – then we get into the organic/natural/fertilizer topic. A little lesson in plant biology – plant roots take up ‘food’ only in a pure chemical form. If you add food in a complex form such as manure – the soil must first break down the organic compounds to their base chemical compounds before the roots can grab the goodies. That is one reason most farms and gardeners use some ‘chemical’ based plant foods or fertilizers – they work well. Now on bad side – if you use too much chemical foods you can burn the roots – or have the chemicals ‘run off’ into ground water. The secret to all of this is to be thoughtful and to something that works well for you. We actually recommend you consider BOTH types of feed. We are big on adding manures as they also help the soil – and we like using liquid plant foods through out the season as they really pick up the plants – also we can ad liquid feeds say after a week of heavy rain as we know the soil is leached clean of plant food. Another consideration is how often you want to add plant food. If you are a go out every night with a glass of Merlot and putter type – then adding a liquid plant food every 7-10 days will fit you – if you are more the look at the garden on Saturdays after soccer type – then consider adding a granular plant food that will stay in the soil up to a month.
One of the variable in gardening is that ‘organic matter’ is a catch phrase for many things – from manure to compost. And the nature of ‘manure’ or ‘compost’ is that they are also very variable. Manure straight from a cow is very different that cow manure that has been aged. Think the opposite of cheeses – older cheese is stronger after aging – here older manure is less strong – no longer ‘hot’ enough to burn your garden. Manure too fresh will have too much nitrogen in too raw a form. Compost has some of the same issues – too fresh and it can still be ‘hot’ or too green and it will tie up soil nutrients and starve your garden. So we like to use a well composted and aged compost versus one that is still in process. Good news is that it is worth it – adding compost and manures to veggie gardens is great for the plants and for the planet.
This is the work part – the tuning the soil over each spring with a tiller or a shovel part – think of it is saving a trip to the gym. Most soils are a mix of things. One of the things in that mix is usually ‘organic matter’ – which is code for rotting leaves and roots and other stuff (manure, compost, peat moss etc). We like to add more organic matter every year as it improves the air to water ratio of most soils, it helps hold water, it often has a little plant food value (think manure) and it helps make dense soils like clay types, drain better, all things that help grow great veggies. So – every year it is a good practice to add some well composted organic matter as you turn the soil ahead of planting your veggies. It is hard to add too much – a good rule of thumb is spread an inch over the garden then turn it into the soil with a tiller or shovel.
Think about you sleeping outside all night. If it is too cold for you it is too cold for many of the veggies J. ‘Cool Crops’ can take a frost – so cabbage, broccoli, carrots, peas, beans, lettuce, onions, radish and Swiss chard can all go out into the garden ahead of the ‘Warm Crop’ plants. Plants like tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and cucumbers will freeze if the temp gets to freezing – plus do not grow well if the soil temperatures are still cold. Safest is to plant after the official frost-free date, for our garden that is May 2 – for Toronto May 9 and for Barrie May 26 (good list here: http://www.tdc.ca/canadian_frost_dates.htm). Now you can cheat – and get warm plants out early – but to succeed you need to be lucky – or careful. Careful means you need to cover the plants at night on cold nights – also consider a mulch to help keep soil temperatures warmer.
The big ‘no-no’ it to plant the root ball too high. And I just did it- I used a ‘buzz’ word – what the heck is a root ball?? So lets back up – in the ‘old’ days – before we had plastic pots – most trees and shrubs had to sold with roots and dirt wrapped in burlap – and we called those roundy balls of roots/dirt and burlap ‘root balls’. So now we grow our veggies in pots – but still call the mass of dirt and roots a ‘root ball’ when it is in fact shaped like a cylinder. So – starting again – you knock the pot off the root ball and plant the roots into a hole in you garden. Ideally keep the level of the top of the root ball even with the level of the garden soil. A BIG mistake is to have folks plant the veggies too high – so top of the root ball sticks up above the garden soil – this will cause your plant to dry out too fast. Now tomatoes can be planted deeper – you can plant the root ball a few inched deeper to better support the stem of the tomato. So – level is good – higher is bad and deeper is ok for tomatoes.